Memorial Day: Veterans share soccer stories

To commemorate Memorial Day, Sporting Kansas City asked veterans to share stories about moments when their military service and soccer crossed paths. Below are a few of the best submissions as we remember our armed forces who have sacrificed their lives in commitment to our country.

I had the choice when enlisting in the Army back in 2001 of either Germany or Korea. Knowing that the 2002 World Cup was in Korea I had to go to Korea being the huge soccer nut that I am. Korea was a blast and I did see a World Cup game while stationed in Korea. - Dan (Army)

I spent a total of 33 years in the United States Air Force, 8 1/2 years on active duty and 24 1/2 years with the 442nd Fighter Wing (USAF Reserves). In 1980, my wife and I deployed to England for 79 days. During this period, I spent time in Darahan, Saudi Arabia providing embassy support for US Embassies throughout Saudi Arabia. While there I witnessed youngsters playing futbol on the sand pitches near where we were working from early in the mornings until night fall. I have to say, this was very impressive due to the extreme heat they were enduring. Another time while I was deployed to the town of Cuxhaven in northern Germany, I went for a walk after work and followed the sounds of what appeared to be some sort of sporting event. I strolled up a long winding path through the forest and came upon what was an "intramural" soccer match between young and old adults. This was in late January and it was cold and a heavy mist was falling. I hung around till it was almost too dark to find my way back to my hotel enjoying this friendly competition of what I found out through the players was a match pitting two local factories. - Bobby (Air Force)

Ft. Jackson, basic training 2011-- a spontaneous game of soccer broke out in our barracks when somebody wadded up an entire roll of duck tape belonging to the Drill Sgts. into a makeshift soccer ball during a rare moment of down time!! Hooah! - Jose (Army)

I was never a huge soccer fan even though I went to Galaxy games when I was stationed in California. What really brought a love of the game to my heart was watching futbol with the Peruvian commandos and Australian Marines and seeing how it's a way of life in other parts of the world. I started paying a lot more attention to the sport when I got back to KC, and thankfully Sporting was there to root for! - Ryan (Marines)

While deployed to Iraq in 2004 I experienced many things good and bad. One of my fondest memories happened when some of my fellow soldiers and I played a pick up game of soccer with the Turkish workers on our forward operating base. It was very hot that day in Mosul. We waited for evening to approach to begin the game. We played on a decent dirt field that actually had two goals. The game was very intense. Everyone playing seemed to forget where we were in the world and performed as though they were on the world stage playing for country. It was a true escape. After the hard fought game we shook hands and had a new respect for one another. That game gave all of us the distraction we needed with a game we all loved. - John (Army)